Agitators defy ban orders, protest against toll collection

A large number of agitators vented their anger against the toll collection though Section 144 was clamped here on Saturday.

The agitators took out a procession from about 1.5 km away from the prohibited area. Howver, the police stopped the midway and the agitators were arrested.

The protesters were bundled into police vehicles and were taken to Dharmavaram Auditorium, where they were confined till evening. As many as 70 men and 20 women were taken into custody following the preventive arrest done for violation of the law. The agitators were released later in the evening.

One ASP, one DySP, three PSIs, four SIs, 40 WPC, four DAR/KSRP platoons were in charge of the security in the area. Speaking to reporters, MLC Kota Srinivas Poojary said the government should immediately respond to the grievances and ensure that basic and drainage facilities are provided in the area. 

The MLC said that the locally registered vehicles are not given concession or relaxation. He condemned the district administration’s decision to impose Section 144 in
the area which is known for peace.

 He charged that the district administration is lending all support to the private company to collect toll. The issue will be taken up with the home minister and PWD minister. “I will raise issue in Legislative Council,” he said.

He added that the struggle will continue till the basic facilities are provided in the area.
Santhosh Kumar Shetty, one of the agitators, said the deputy commissioner should answer the question for not giving relaxations to the local vehicles. Toll gates are set up every 35 km as against the rule put forth by the Central government that the toll gates should be put for every 60 km. Hejamadi and Surathkal are some 15 km apart and both the places have toll gates, he claimed.  

Kishore Kumar Kundapur said works should be completed. “We are not objecting to the toll collection. The proposed flyover works are incomplete. Besides, the service roads are still being laid. Karavali Junction work is incomplete and street lights have not been put up,” he charged.

Prithviraj Shetty, Karnataka Student Union district president, said that the protest is only symbolic. The district bandh called on Monday (February 13) will show the anger of the public against the toll collection. The students will henceforth join the protest en masse.

“We will call for college bandh and also support will be sought from taxi, autorickshaw and lorry unions. The unscientific planning of the national highway has resulted in the increasing number of accidents on the stretch,” he charged.

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